Case Study: DeKalb GA Jail
Tyler Solutions, used by justice partners
- Odyssey Case Manager™
- Odyssey File & Serve™
- Odyssey Judge Edition™
- Odyssey Attorney Manager™
- Odyssey Supervision™
- Odyssey Portal
The Southeast’s Largest Adult Detention Center Transforms Processes and Streamlines Collaboration Through Integration
The Jail Services Division of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, located in Decatur, Georgia, is responsible for the care, custody, and control of inmates; protection of inmates’ constitutional rights; and security for the delivery of inmate programs and health services at the DeKalb County Jail.
The DeKalb County Jail is an adult pre-trial detention center that receives all persons age 17 and older who are arrested in DeKalb County on state, county, or local charges by any law enforcement agency. A person found guilty of a felony is usually transferred to a state prison to serve the sentence. Some convicted persons serve sentences of up to 24 months at the DeKalb County Jail.
The DeKalb County Jail books and releases an average of 33,000 people each year, with an average length of stay of 30 days. The division is responsible for the operation of the agency’s 3,800-bed adult pre-trial detention center and for the welfare of its inmates from arrest until release.
The Challenge — Legacy System Made It Difficult to Operate Efficiently and Easily Communicate With Justice Partners at the Court
The DeKalb County Jail Services Division’s legacy system was installed on Jan. 1, 2000. Even though this system was implemented to help, it wasn’t robust enough to replace many of the jail’s paper-based systems that were already in place. Processes for intake were paper-based and time consuming, usually taking an average of 5-8 hours to process. The DeKalb County Jail staff also used paper logs to track all of the jail activity, including inmate movements and any incidents.
With so much paper moving with a particular inmate, the jail had to manage its files and store up to 800 boxes filled with thousands of inmate files and dispositions. The DeKalb County Jail knew it needed a system that was more current and could provide more capabilities including electronic file management and document scanning along with tracking functionality to keep an eye on details like inmate activity and even inmate package deliveries.
The limited capabilities of the legacy system also prevented the jail from having true integrations with its justice partners at the DeKalb County Superior Court, which had moved away from its own legacy system and implemented Tyler’s Odyssey® system in 2016. Without integrations between the jail and the court, there was a redundancy and duplication of efforts in different processes between the jail and court.
With [Tyler Corrections], staff could easily see what went on in court — like the sentence or the disposition — all in real time. Instead of couriering documents, staff could immediately access information, start working on a disposition hours earlier, and have inmates ready to release to the free world much sooner. It was a hugely significant benefit!
Director of Fiscal Management, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office
The Solution — Upgrade and Innovate to Transform Jail Operations and Open Up Court Integrations
With the legacy system, the DeKalb County Jail staff felt they were unable to develop more efficient processes and streamline how the jail could operate. Their goal? Consolidate the multiple facets of their jail administration and management into one modern, streamlined system that would create more efficiency for jail staff across the board. They worked with Tyler to implement the Tyler Corrections jail management solution (formerly known as Odyssey Jail Manager) to help achieve that goal.
Since the court was already using Tyler solutions, including Odyssey Case Manager, implementing Tyler Corrections on the jail side would immediately open up the door for integrations to improve communication, increase collaboration, and streamline processes between the court and jail. This was a strategic element of the county’s enterprise technology plan which included the DeKalb County Superior Court launching its new system first, leading the way for other DeKalb justice agencies to follow suit.
“One of the key reasons we went with Tyler was because we wanted to have integrated courts and justice of the Superior Court,” said Fern Scott, project manager with the DeKalb County Jail. “The Superior Court had already implemented their [Tyler] solutions in April of 2016, and they were the blueprint for what we wanted to do.”
A key integration point between the jail and the court was in dealing with warrants. Prior to this integration, the DeKalb County Jail’s warrants department had to re-enter each paper-issued warrant into their legacy jail management system since they didn’t have access to the court’s case management system. This duplicated efforts and increased the risk of data entry errors. Now that these systems are integrated and have the ability to share information, all warrant information is automatically visible to both court and jail staff, with enhanced abilities to research, act quickly, and keep an accurate count of number and types of warrants. To maximize this benefit, the jail staff went back and digitized 27,000 paper-issued warrants, so the jail and courts could access more comprehensive historical data.
The transformation in jail operations was clearly evident in the inmate release process, which was accelerated once Tyler Corrections was implemented. With the new system, the jail was able to receive the release notification through the integrated system, rather than waiting for the delivery of paper-issued court orders or case dismissals. Earlier notifications meant the jail staff was ready to start processing a particular inmate’s release sooner, often alleviating schedule congestion. These efficiencies helped reduce the amount of time processing a release by 50%, from an average of 5-8 hours to 2-4 hours.
DeKalb County Jail cut inmate release time in half thanks to streamlined processes enabled by Tyler Corrections’ integrations.
The Results — Open Up a Whole New World of Efficiency, Collaboration, Integration, and Service
Once Tyler Corrections was implemented, the DeKalb County Jail staff was able to create efficiencies across the board while also enabling integrations with the court to streamline processes and communications between these two justice partners. The impact of Tyler Corrections was felt in many of the jail’s operations, with the implementation of new features that included:
- Paperless intake process
- Arresting agencies bringing inmates to the DeKalb County Jail are no longer filling out paper jail tickets. Instead, they enter inmate information directly into Tyler Corrections, speeding up the intake process.
- The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office installed Tyler Corrections in all of their patrol cars and are initiating the booking process prior to bringing the inmate into the jail. This greatly reduces the wait times, ensuring quicker mugshots and overall accelerated intake.
- Document scanning
- The jail is now able to scan and store property information, case or hearing-related information, bonding paperwork, warrants and jail tickets. This eliminated the need to store and maintain nearly 800 boxes of inmate files and dispositions and freeing up office space for jail staff.
- And thanks to the system integration, these documents can also be accessed by the DeKalb County Courts, alleviating the need to physically transport or fax documentation to fulfill inquiries from requesting agencies.
- Inmate scanning
- The jail now utilizes handheld scanners to track inmate movement from one location to the other within the facility, as well as any activities involving the inmate to better track this information in their jail management system. The hand-held scanners can be used to move multiple inmates in or out of the facility for court hearings, medical appointments, etc., and significantly reduces the amount of work needed to track inmate activity.
- Electronic jail log
- Prior to Tyler Corrections, the jail staff were utilizing paper logbooks and anything from incidents to inmate movement to jail staff entering/exiting the jail was recorded manually 24 hours a day. Shortly after go-live, the paper log books were eliminated and everything was entered into Tyler Corrections, making the jail activity log completely paperless.
- Storing an electronic logbook also enables jail leadership to easily search and run reports for information logged on previous shifts. This provides more easily accessible data for informing management decisions.
- Biometric verification
- When booking inmates into the jail, biometric verification allows for a quicker booking process and enables the jail to maintain historical records on the same party record.
- Jail systems consolidation
- Tyler Corrections helped integrate the jail’s commissary, medical information, victim notifications, and other separate features into one system to help streamline access and increase time savings for jail staff.
[Tyler Corrections] provided more accountability for the data of record entered. Instead of verbal exchanges or worrying about issues of officers’ penmanship, we’re able to make sure that accurate data follows the entire judicial process.
Major LoRandy Akies
Chief Jail Division Commander, DeKalb County Jail Services Division
Creating a Call Center to Provide Better Service
Thanks to these new efficiencies and their powerful new system, the DeKalb County Jail was able to establish a dedicated call center to better serve the public. The call center was another key gain for the jail because it allowed them to streamline their service to the public for inquiries regarding one of the potentially thousands of inmates that were housed in the facility.
Prior to the call center, calls were routed to various areas of the jail and sheriff’s office to receive inmate information. One of these areas was the jail’s information desk, where people would come in person with their questions about the jail, inmate status, and more. This area was receiving well over 150 calls per day that were complex in nature and needed an investment in time and research to find answers for the callers.
With the new call center established, incoming calls are now filtered to one centralized area staffed by subject matter experts who can quickly and easily navigate Tyler Corrections to find information. This reduced the number of calls that other employees would have to take, freeing up the information desk personnel to give more focused attention to those in front of them without trying to multitask and answer calls. In the future, the DeKalb County Jail hopes to provide call center positions for staff members to work remotely, thereby providing flexibility to staff while maintaining high-quality service to the public.
Focusing on Enhancing Additional Processes for the Future
As the DeKalb County Jail moves ahead using Tyler Corrections, they’re focusing on continuous improvement of their system — which is part of Tyler’s evergreen philosophy — and have an eye on upgrading other legacy systems, including Tyler’s SoftCode civil process software. They also plan on improving their financial solution for the civil process function using Odyssey Financial Manager™.
Exploring other uses for Tyler Corrections is also part of future plans, including storing and logging data and imagery, as well as utilizing additional fields in Tyler Corrections, such as adding passports, to create a more holistic historical view of inmate records in case a department audit ever occurs.
This increased focus on technology has not gone unnoticed, as the DeKalb County Jail’s achievements have been recognized by the Georgia Technology Authority, who awarded them top honors as a 2019 Technology Innovation Showcase winner for their IJIS/JMS integration. Moving forward, they are well-positioned to utilize their award-winning technology leadership for further operational improvements and connections to justice partners, ultimately providing the best possible service to their community.